Question Your Beliefs
We spend a lot of time walking around with certain ideas in our heads. It doesn’t matter how relevant they are to modern society, or even how much they actually help or hinder us: we’re going to continue to use certain ideas as guiding principles to living out our lives.
The trick is not to fall into the trap of being a sheep that blindly follows the herd. You want to make sure that you’re living your life based on what you ultimately think is right, not a crazy notion that someone once planted in your head.
What defines you?
I believe that everyone has a core set of beliefs that guide them through life. It is the basis of our decisions, the way we treat other people, and even the type of media/food/opinions we decide to consume.
Action step: Time yourself for 10 minutes, and think of at least three values that you use to guide your decisions. We’re going to be analyzing these values in the next steps.
You may have pinpointed a toxic core belief in your set of values. Perhaps you feel negatively toward a certain type of people when you’d instead like to be accepting of all the diversity around you. In order to break this idea, you could hang out with some people who blatantly defy this stereotype/belief.
The key is to not let this toxic belief go on a crazy rampage without your consent. Figure out how to eliminate it from your life or how to morph it into something pleasant.
Action step: Decide which beliefs need tweaking. Tweak on.
Inform yourself of alternative possibilities
- Read other peoples’ opinions on a topic that you seem to have trouble wrapping your mind around. (Blogs, books, magazines, newspapers are all good for this.)
- Talk to friends about your belief system and what they think. (You are who you hang around.)
- Test new possibilities out in the real world. What if you changed your mindset for a week? How would that change the way you react to situations? Would you be better off?
Adopt the ones that you are in line with
This exercise could be an eye-opener for you, or it could be as boring as TV programming on a weekday afternoon. What I hope you do get out of it, however, is the realization that we all have underlying values that drive us. As long as we make sure that this psychological groundwork is in place and functioning properly with our view of the world, then we can properly direct the rest of our lives.
Continuously checking and rechecking your beliefs assures that you’ll never be left with the stale leftovers that no longer characterize your life.
And that, my friends, is how sheep gain critical thinking* skills.
*No sheep brains were harmed in the making of this article.